A Pagan's Blog

A Pagan's Blog


The Case for the Corporate Death Penalty

posted by Gus diZerega

This was a response to  comment on the immediately preceding post.  It suggests a practical way of bringing corporations under the law without depending on corrupt politicians who have been bought off.  The recent actions by Massey Energy, Goldman Sachs, and Wellpoint suggest remedial measures are long overdue.



Corporations are institutionally incapable of acting
ethically.  They will only do so
when the penalty for being caught breaking the law is greater than any likely
profit from doing so.  The recent
cases of Massey Energy, Goldman Sachs, and now Wellpoint demonstrate this sad
truth. 

In addition, their wealth and power make elected officials
unlikely allies against them except for the short term – and than, as the
Republicans and too many Democrats demonstrate, they will do what they can to
appear on the people’s side while loyally serving their real paymasters. Nor is
corporate media an ally.

Corporations have become a new aristocracy, largely above
the law, which they simply buy off or pay relatively painless fines.  Unlike the old aristocracy, neither
decency nor generosity amount for much because should any CEO so act, it will
be at the cost of profit and of share value, and they will risk being ousted in
a take over bid.  Such positions of
leaders attract sociopaths who will use the perks of leadership primarily to
feather their own nests.

In other words, we have created and sustained institutional
sociopaths morally worse than the old aristocracy, organizations that will
actually penalize decent people acting decently if it costs them profit.  The only likely exceptions will be the
first generation of founders, if they have a strong ethical vision.   

The alternative to relying on
politicians, and a reasonable one, is the “Corporate Death Penalty.”

If a corporation breaks the law
three times within 20 years, using the same logic conservatives love to employ
with real people, the company has its assets sold to the highest bidder with
the money going first to pay for damages, second, to pay for the sustenance and
retraining of its wag employees, and if any remains, to pay off public debt.  If a national law is its third strike,
it goes to reduce the national debt. 
If a state law, it reduces the state debt. Shareholders get
nothing.  Their shares’ value falls
to zero.

Top management is prohibited from
ever working together, to destroy the culture of corruption they created and
sustained.  The firm’s name is
abolished for a generation.  It is
as dead as a company can be.

The penalty is so draconian that
with a second conviction share prices will suffer seriously.  This in itself will virtually guarantee
that top management will be ousted as a preventive measure, and very strict
rules enforced vis-à-vis the law. 
Even a first conviction will raise questions about the competence of top
management, and may cost them their positions. 

This environment will hopefully
push back against the advantages sociopaths currently possess in rising to
leadership positions.  If it fails
to do so, at least it will help keep them under control, or eliminate them from
top positions.

The logic of the corporate death
penalty is to create such circumstances that it will almost never need to be
employed.  One ‘execution’ should
do the job because top management will then rigorously self-police because they
stand to lose a great deal with even a second conviction.  And if they do not, shareholders will.
The profit orientation of the market will then work to improve behavior rather
than as it does now, to encourage corruption.




Advertisement
Comments read comments(14)
post a comment
Turmarion

posted April 22, 2010 at 11:23 pm


I think the root problem is the way in which corporations have been held to be legal “persons” at all. The Supreme Court has decided cases in which corporations were considered as having “rights” just as real persons do–this is why, for example, it’s hard to restrict corporate spending in political campaigns, since to do so would restrict their freedom of speech. Logically, a corporation isn’t a person, so such rules shouldn’t apply–but that’s what the Constitutional jurisprudence has it as being now. To do so would probably require a Constitutional amdendment, but the best solution would be to end the “personhood” of corporations altogether.
Since doing that would be well-nigh impossible, I’m in complete agreement with Gus in this post as being the next best solution. String ‘em up, so to speak, if the situation calls for it!



report abuse
 

Makarios

posted April 23, 2010 at 2:21 am


I’m not acquainted with U.S. law, but I would suspect that, in most jurisdictions, rescission of an insurance contract, even if done in bad faith, would not be a criminal offence, but, rather, a matter for civil litigation between the insured and the insurer. So, how about the following:
1 An insurer who is found to have rescinded an insurance policy in bad faith will be required not only to restore the required coverage, but also to pay punitive damages to the insured in the amount of 1/365 of its reported pre-tax income for the previous year; and
2 This amount will not be an allowable expense for tax purposes.
In other words, an insurance company that engages in this type of shenanigans will wind up paying the policyholder one day’s pre-tax profit, and they won’t be able to offload half of that cost onto the taxpayers.
I would think that this would be sufficient to deter insurance companies from rescinding policies except in the clearest possible cases of premeditated fraud. Two such penalties, or even one, would be enough to trigger a shareholder revolt. Furthermore, because it’s a civil case and not criminal, the insured only has to prove his/her case against the company on preponderance of evidence. In a criminal case, guilt has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt, which is a much higher standard.



report abuse
 

gus diZerega

posted April 23, 2010 at 11:01 am


I like it.



report abuse
 

Hobbes

posted April 23, 2010 at 12:08 pm


Sorry for the OT posting, but I don’t know your personal email.
I teach a Paganism 101 class and I have my students listen to a lecture you gave in Toronto in 2007 (“Return of the Divine Feminine”). In that lecture, you tell the story about Stewart Alsop and his experience in a Chinese hospital.
I’ve searched the Internet for this story and I haven’t been able to find it. Would you happen to know where I could find a reference to this story?



report abuse
 

Pitch313

posted April 23, 2010 at 12:29 pm


Too often, those who fear the power of the state pay no attention to the power of corporations.
Penalties on the misbehavior of corporations do need to take into account their unique form of “personhood.” To the exhent they are persons made of money and influence, that’s what has to be used in punishment/rehabilitation. No money. No influence.
I find that I’m less bothered by draconian regulation of corporations than I imagined I’d be.



report abuse
 

Gus diZerega

posted April 23, 2010 at 12:35 pm


Hi Hobbes-
It was many years ago- when Nixon went and Alsop (Stewart or Joseph- I don’t remember, but it seems to be Stewart) got appendicitis and wrote a piece about watching it being removed via a mirror the docs gave him. That’s all I remember – that and the reaction of the head of Yale’s med school.
I just googled around and found another mention of what I remember here
http://www.ouuf.org/Sermons/ESSpirituality.html
This article gives some details I do not remember, but there is no mention of the head of Yale’s med school saying it couldn’t be true because their theories told them pain did not work that way.- so we likely are remembering the same column.
The Univ. of Maryland Medical Center discusses acupuncture in a way that fits Alsop’s report, but does not mention him. (scroll down the article)
http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/appendicitis-000014.htm
I think it was roo far back to be in Google. If you can find a copy of Alsop’s columns (not his Saturday Evening Post pieces) and look around the time he accompanied Nixon to China, you’ll find it.



report abuse
 

Hobbes

posted April 23, 2010 at 12:46 pm


Thanks very much Gus!



report abuse
 

Cheryl Hill

posted April 23, 2010 at 2:45 pm


I’m still saddened, frustrated and a bunch of other emotions I can’t quite nail down beause I know that the only way the people controlling corporations can be assured of acting ethically is to make it unbearably painful to do wrong. One would hope corporations would do this without having to be on a choke chain.



report abuse
 

kenneth

posted April 23, 2010 at 5:50 pm


Brilliant idea Gus. Implementation will be tricky, given that the corporations essentially own our public officials outright, but the right wave of intelligent, populists anger might just do it….



report abuse
 

Billig Begravelse Jerslev

posted July 3, 2014 at 8:06 am


A lot of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers! It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions. Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article. I want to read more things about it!



report abuse
 

Anonymous

posted July 4, 2014 at 9:54 am


My brothersuggested I might like this blog. He was totally right. This post truly made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!



report abuse
 

Alana Aus

posted July 25, 2014 at 6:57 pm


klas healthcare analytics



report abuse
 

Maribeth Bottini

posted July 27, 2014 at 8:11 pm


You are so awesome! I do not think I’ve truly read a single thing like that before. So great to discover someone with genuine thoughts on this topic. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is required on the internet, someone with some originality.



report abuse
 

Leslie Zuno

posted July 27, 2014 at 10:00 pm


An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I think that you ought to write more about this issue, it might not be a taboo matter but typically people do not talk about these topics. To the next! Many thanks!



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting A Pagans Blog. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: The Latest on Pagan and Earth-Based Religions Happy Reading!!!

posted 9:39:40am Jul. 06, 2012 | read full post »

Earth Day and the Sacredness of the Earth
I think Earth Day is a particularly important moment for contemplation and commitment by us Pagans.  Often American Christian critics accuse us of “pantheism,” and in a important respect they are right.  We do find the sacred, most of us, in the earth without reference to any transcendental sp

posted 11:57:03am Apr. 20, 2012 | read full post »

Instructive examples on why interfaith work is a good idea
I deeply believe the problems in our country are more of the heart than of the head. Here are some youtubes courtesy of John Morehead of the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy on Facebook. They speak more eloquently than anything I can write that interfaith work is a good

posted 1:08:25pm Apr. 12, 2012 | read full post »

The controversy over Pink Slime - and what it means.
The controversy over pink slime is helping educate Americans to the fact that corporations are as beneficial to agriculture as they are to politics. Tom Laskawy put it pithily: “What pink slime represents is an open admission by the food industry that it is hard-pressed to produce meat that won’

posted 4:03:07pm Apr. 11, 2012 | read full post »

How the "war on religion' backfired into a war on women
Here  is a really good article by Tina DuPuy on how the Republicans got themselves into such a mess with America's more intelligent women.  Left undiscussed is how the extreme pathological masculinity of both their deity and their leaders made that slip so very easy.

posted 12:12:35pm Apr. 11, 2012 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.